Posted on October 27, 2008 by Flames
Today’s addition to the Halloween Horror series comes from writer, reviewer and musician Jason Thorson.
Taking a bit of inspiration from his passion for music, Jason brings us a new monster.
The Fogcrawler’s Thrall
Created by Jason Thorson
When he was interviewed for the book, “Hunting Ghosts: A Skeptic’s Account of the Paranormal,” Randall Bailleaux spoke about the legend of the Fogcrawler with the same matter-of-fact drawl that he used daily to promote his swamp tour.
“Those fellas from the “Ghost Trackers” TV program might be full a’ crap, but they ain’t stupid, that’s for sure. I told ‘em they had free reign, but they wouldn’t budge. They would not come down here.”
Randall took one last drag from his smoldering cigarette, dropped it onto the dock and smashed it beneath his boot.
“What we got back here ain’t no Casper. It ain’t some tired door-openin’, foot-steps-on-the-stairs apparition. This spook is the grand daddy of ’em all. There are parts of this swamp where you cannot go if you plan on comin’ back. For folks like ya’ll, the Fogcrawler legend is a dream come true and your worst nightmare all at once. Those fellas from the TV show knew that, but I called their bluff. And now I’m calling yours. If you go in there, you will not come back. So go ahead and prove me wrong, Mr. Skeptic.”
In 1843 southern Louisiana had a vampire problem. The local aristocrats collectively decided that Lady Fairbone, Louisiana’s preeminent black magic practitioner, was the only viable weapon against the voracious rogue predator lurking about the swamps. Despite Lady Fairbone’s fervent protests, an agreement was begrudgingly struck. She would be freed in exchange for her unique services and if she failed to rid the community of its bogeyman, it wouldn’t matter much as neither aristocracy nor slavery affected the way one tasted.
Lady Fairbone had spent her entire life watching plantation owners, slaves, and free Haitians fight side by side to eradicate the vampires that had followed them to Louisiana after the Haitian Revolution of 1804. When she was younger, Ms. Fairbone preferred not to fight, for she had been compelled by the dark arts. She took to Voodoo the way the others took to wielding a stake, a sword, and a torch. And after years of bloody battles, the resilient few monsters that remained had fled deeper into the swamps, sporadically sweeping in by night to raid the plantations of innocent blood.
By 1840, the vampire threat was embodied by a single creature, a beast so hideous that he devoured his last remaining vampire brethren simply for the sake of convenience. Known as Magnus of the Fog, he had been a lecherous perversion of a man in life and he was a shambling and demonic abomination of a vampire. An enormous creature, Magnus slouched and shuffled forth making him appear much smaller than he actually was. He kept his mass hidden beneath a decrepit over coat, and his gravitational gaze concealed by a rotten court jester’s hat taken along with the jester’s head some centuries prior and in some far off place. Despite his indiscriminate appetite, he preferred little girls, this one. When he had been finished with them he’d skewer their heads atop the large staff he used as a walking stick, replacing them only as they became putrid and fell away. Moreover, Magnus of the Fog feared nothing, least of all men.
On the night of October 31st, 1843, Lady Fairbone reluctantly stood near the water’s edge alone and afraid. Her muscles were wound tighter than springs and her shallow breathes were enabled only by the promising light of freedom dimly flickering about the inky darkness of her thoughts. A cool damp wind rushed in on tendrils of milky white mist causing Lady Fairbone’s pulse to beat rhythmically behind her ears, a loud and primal adrenal hymn.
And then He came.
Magnus slithered up from the water, his tattered wet over coat clinging to him like the hide of a decomposing bull. A shaft of penetrating moonlight enveloped the slouching hulk as he crouched not fifty paces from Lady Fairbone. His pale talon fingers clutched the hardwood walking stick just beneath a totem of three rotten heads, their faces melting in horror and swampy decay. He tilted his large face upward to lock eyes with the lady. His white face featured a grotesque grimace – all shard-like teeth buried in bloody gums beneath sunken eyes, bloodshot and yellow. It was as if an old shark had walked upright out of the Gulf and found its way here, motivated by hunger and guided by a myriad of finely tuned senses.
Lady Fairbone began to chant, “Plight of men, plight of men, plight of men….” She raised her hands, splaying her fingers, her head lolling back and forth on her neck like a pendulum. Magnus gurgled a hideous laugh, deeper, blacker, and greasier than an oil well. Then he hissed like a hurricane gale as he glided like fluid toward the lady with instantaneous speed. In a blink they’d engaged, his huge hands wrapped around her throat, her tiny palms placed on his cold putty-like face.
Lady Fairbone suddenly stiffened and lifted her head, eye-to-eye with the beast. She screamed, “Plight of men!” And with that Magnus let her go and stumbled backward. He belched forth a sickly moan that soon reached a crescendo that then turned into shrieks of agony. And he began to shake.
Plight of Men was a little known and little used spell. It bestowed an object with a soul and Lady Fairbone had just given one to Magnus of the Fog. This was not the soul Magnus the man was born with, but rather it was the immaterial essence of his vampire self. As a logical impossibility or at least a universal paradox, Magnus’ soul became corrupted immediately upon its birth. As Magnus reeled and writhed, frothing and snarling in pain, he snatched up Lady Fairbone with his giant paws and devoured her throat in three huge bites before hurling her head deep into the swamp.
Magnus vomited and then collapsed. He lay there in the mud shaking like a rattle for nearly an hour until at last he died a true death. And so the legend goes. Just before dawn on November 1st, 1843 a most unfortunate thing happened. Magnus of the Fog’s soul left his body, but it did not leave the swamps….
When the mini recorder was found, tape intact, it was disturbingly apparent that Randall Bailleaux’s warning fell on willfully deaf ears. The conversation on the tape led the deputies to his swamp tour headquarters at the water’s edge. Randall shuffled out of the shed and onto the dock. Expressionless and gaunt, his face lacked color of its own, but provided a canvass on which auburn smears of dried blood appeared vivid against his pale skin. His clothes were soaked in viscous crimson fluid and his boots were caked with mud.
As Randall turned around and put his hands behind his back to be cuffed, a deputy removed the impossibly ragged and filthy court jester’s hat from Randall’s head and dropped it onto the dock to avoid its pungent stench. Randall bowed his head and was led away.
About Jason Thorson
Jason Thorson is a freelance writer, journalist, and film critic. Several of his reviews can be found right here at Flames Rising. When Jason isn’t watching or writing about horror films, he can be found performing with the band Fogcrawler (www.fogcrawler.com).